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Have You Seen the Rock?

Islander Mike Martin celebrates the Hawks' victory in a bold way!
Islander Mike Martin celebrates the Hawks’ victory in a bold way!

I’m referring, of course, to the rock on Beaverton Valley road. You may have passed it a million times on your way to and from a sightseeing jaunt here on San Juan Island, and never noticed it before – unless it was painted!

“Why would anyone paint a rock?” you might ask.

We have a few beloved oddities here, from Mona the camel (yes, she came from Ebay) to Cow and Pig (they were stolen, but miraculously returned!) to the Free Pile on West Side road (as much recyclable junk as your little heart desires). But the rock on Beaverton Valley road has long stood as a medium for free expression by islanders, and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.

It turns out that my good friend Coral Wilson has the inside scoop on the origin of “The Rock.” Her mother and a few friends were the very first ones to come up with the idea of painting it. They did it to commemorate their high school graduation way back in 1977, and Coral says that her mom felt terrible about the “vandalism” for months afterward. Little did she know that her youthful experiment would be the jumpstart to a cherished island tradition that’s still going strong nearly four decades later!

The bold pink and black celebrates Relay for Life in Friday Harbor
The bold pink and black celebrates Relay for Life in Friday Harbor

The Rock is so popular that it even has its own Facebook page.

Its tempting blank canvas has been used for a lot of different purposes over the years, from raising breast cancer awareness to paying tribute to family and friends that have passed away. It’s always hopping around graduation time (I bet that makes Coral’s mom smile!), and of course most recently, it was just one more perfect place to show that the 12th Man can be found in even the most unexpected places, when it was painted to celebrate the Seattle Seahawks’ bid in Super Bowl 48.

Islander Amy Hannis Wynn, who started the Facebook page, calls the rock “a visual and oral history of an island tradition.” Well-put, Amy! We agree, and urge you to take a cruise out to the rock during your next trip to see what manner of imaginative statement has popped up. Inspiration can be found in nearly everything!

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